2196 Columbia Street

This modest wooden Mount Pleasant church is seen here in a 1970s image. Unusually, we admit to processing the ‘before’ picture slightly, as the image was very dark and slightly discoloured on the Archives website, and hard to make out. The church dated from 1928 when it was erected by the United Church as a mission. While the Japanese community based on Powell Street was well known, and has been mentioned on this blog many times, there was another Mount Pleasant community that’s less well known.

The Japanese community here mostly worked in the sawmills and the other industries along the south shore of False Creek. In 1921, the Powell Street Church board agreed to set up a second mission in Fairview, and rented part of a grocery store at Yukon and West 4th Avenue. The Japanese United Church record that “In 1928, the United Church purchased property at the corner of West 6th Avenue and Columbia Street for the mission. A new building was constructed through a grant of $5,000 from the WMS, $4,000 from the Board of Home Missions, and $2,000 from the Japanese community. The new church was known as the Fairview Japanese Mission, and was always considered an off-shoot of the “Mother Mission” on the corner of Powell and Jackson.”

The Building Permit in 1928 reflects the budget; submitted by the United Church of Canada, G E Copeland was the builder of the $9,000 new church. George was a carpenter who previously had been a chemist in a chemical company. He and his wife Edna were from Ontario, and they had two of Edna’s young relatives, Esther and Evelyn McGill, born in Manitoba, living with them in 1921. We know their father had died in 1912, and their mother may have died in 1916. There’s no reference to any architect associated with the construction.

The new church flourished: “in 1933, in addition to Sunday worship, English night school and midweek prayer meetings, children and youth activities flourished: there were 214 in the Sunday school, 70 in the Saturday school and 55 mothers in the Kindergarten PTA“. Once the Japanese were forced to leave the Lower Mainland in the early 1940s, the Woman’s Missionary Society had a kindergarten here. St Giles church at W10th and Quebec held their Sunday School here until 1949, the year the Board of Home Missions renovated the building and reopened it as the Columbia Street Mission – no longer a Japanese congregation. In 1955, the English-speaking congregation of the Vancouver Japanese United Church began sharing the building with the Columbia Street congregation, worshiping here in the evenings. By 1958, both English- and Japanese-speaking congregations were worshiping here, before moving to Renfrew United Church in 1962. The Columbia Street congregation disbanded in 1969, and the building was sold and demolished in 1977.

The single-storey industrial building that replaced it was completed in 1984. Today the area is seeing huge change as high-tech and bio-tech businesses are moving in, with many new hybrid multi-storey industrial/office projects being developed. It seems likely that a modest low density building like this will be redeveloped.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-32


Posted 14 October 2021 by ChangingCity in Gone, Mount Pleasant

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